Transition to adulthood: Relationships among psychosocial correlates, stages of change for physical activity, and health outcomes in a cross-cultural sample

Yanping Duan, Hong Kong Baptist University
Walter Brehm, University of Bayreuth
Petra Wagner, University of Leipzig
Pak Kwong Chung, Hong Kong Baptist University
Sebastian Graf, University of Bayreuth
Ru Zhang, University of Leipzig
Gangyan Si, Hong Kong Institute of Education


Background: A successful transition from late adolescence to adulthood is essential. Physical activity (PA) can support this process and lead to positive health outcomes. The change in PA from inactive to active stages is influenced by psychosocial correlates, and as such, this study tested the relationships among psychosocial correlates, stages of change for PA and health outcomes in university students from Hong Kong (n = 404) and Germany (n = 366). Methods: The questionnaire contained (1) PA and stages of change; (2) 10 psychosocial correlates including outcome expectations, affective attitude, barriers, self-efficacy, body-concept, plans, intrinsic motivation, activity emotions, assessment of activity situation, and social support; and (3) 5 health outcomes, including fitness, subjective well-being, health satisfaction, physical complaints, and BMI. Results: Barriers and intrinsic motivation were the critical psychosocial variables related to stages of change. Specific planning was more important for Hong Kong students’ stage progression within inactive stages. Competitive or enjoyable PA programs were more effective for male students moving from inactive to active stages. The link between stages of change for PA and health outcomes (ie, fitness, health satisfaction) was well established. Conclusion: Public health researchers should conduct effective psychosocial interventions that motivate young adults to engage in PA for positive health outcomes.